Zometa. Aredia. Fosamax. Actonel. Boniva. If you suffer from any condition that leads to the deterioration of bones, then you will recognise these names. And, it is in your interest to keep reading.
Some experts say that they would like to see more data. But people suffering from cancer and osteoporosis should nonetheless be warned. And a story written by Gina Kolata and published on June 2, 2006 in the New York Times has done just that.
The article draws attention to the fact that cancer and osteoporosis patients face a newly detected and serious risk from the very drugs used to enhance the health of their bones. In both cases, the drugs used to treat these patients contain bisphosphonate. In the case of cancer, which requires higher doses, the drug is Zometa or Aredia. For osteoporosis, patients are treated with Fosamax, Actonel or Boniva.
Evidence of a serious side effect is now surfacing. And while this evidence is so far limited, and requires further study, there is deep concern that these drugs are linked to osteonecrosis of the jaw. Put simply, bone death occurs, in the jaw, as a result of these drugs. This early evidence suggests that cancer patients are at greater risk than those being treated for osteoporosis but this provides no comfort since bisphosphonate remains in the bone for years with no one knowing how long the risk of bone death remains. Therefore, the real risks to osteoporosis patients who are accumulating bisphosphonate in their bodies are currently unknown.
Given this state of affairs, it is imperative that the Ministry of Health issue a public advisory so that the affected groups of persons will be better informed about the risks involved in taking these drugs.